Military diet-approved foods aren't what you'd typically think of as "diet" fare, including hot dogs, toast, ice cream, and canned tuna, says registered dietitian Brooke Alpert. See the full breakdown of the diet meals below. These same meals are prescribed for everyone observing the diet and are carefully planned out so you don't overindulge or stray off the diet (since you can only eat the foods recommended below), says Alpert.
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The best way to understand and implement Step 1 is to skip the boxed, pre-made foods, and shop the perimeter of the grocery store. By shopping just the perimeter of the grocery store you’ll pick up organic fruits and veggies, lean protein from the butcher and freshly baked bread from the store bakery. You’re only buying fresh food. Of course this is more metaphor than rule. Organic pasta, rice and beans are usually found in isles as well are organic whole wheat flour and spices. Be sure to choose these ingredients in the purest forms, pick up the organic brown rice, not the box of rice mixture with the spices. The only ingredient on the label should be “brown rice.”
So, how can you lose more than 3 pounds then? Well our bodies are more complex than simple calorie-counting would have you believe. Each person’s metabolism is different and reacts differently to the diet. Many people burn more than 2000 calories in a day, just through their regular activities, which would mean you’d lose more weight. It’s also possible that you typically consume more than 2000 calories in a day- making the effects of the diet even more dramatic.
Vegetarian modifications to the military diet can mean that you’ll consume fewer calories, or even more, depending on what you choose. Use a trusty calorie calculator to make sure you’re on target. For example, for dinner on day 1, you’re allowed 3 oz of meat or a protein substitute. If you were to eat chicken, that would be about 200 calories. If you substitute that with 3 oz of tofu, you’re consuming only about 65 calories, but if you choose black beans, you’ll get 111 calories and if you eat 3 oz of almonds, you’d hit 489 calories. It’s a bit of a difference, but also note that you could eat double the beans or tofu and get the same number of calories as you would with the chicken. Or, you could have the recommended amount of beans and still slip in a handful of almonds. Obviously, 3 oz of almonds would be too many almonds even if they weren’t so calorie heavy. So, do your calorie research well on military diet vegetarian modifications to ensure you’ll still get the same great results.
Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, and author of 2 Day Diabetes Diet and Belly Fat Diet For Dummies, feels similarly concerned. "A restrictive diet that does not promote the nutritional value of foods and is only focused on calories, such as the Military Diet, may promote weight loss at the expense of health," she says. "This diet is not sustainable and any weight loss will most likely be regained quickly." She even cautions that the diet may ultimately lead to weight gain down the road. "A drastic reduction in calories will promote weight loss, however restricting calories this low may promote a loss of both lean body mass (muscle mass) as well as fat mass, which makes it easier to regain the weight as soon as you return to normal eating habits."
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You’re transitioning. Your body is equipped to process a high intake of carbs and a lower intake of fat. Your body needs to create enzymes to be able to do this. In the transitional period, the brain may run low on energy which can lead to grogginess, nausea, and headaches. If you’re having a large problem with this, you can choose to reduce carb intake gradually.
The Military Diet works by practically guaranteeing you will burn more calories than you consume. If an overweight person who usually eats 2,500-3,000+ calories in a day, suddenly switches to ONLY eat 1,000 calories for multiple days in a row, their body will operate at a caloric deficit while it seeks the energy required for drills, push-ups, and cleaning the mess hall.
So as tedious as this one step might seem, it is an important step for both weight loss and maintenance later on and it holds everything together. Having a meal plan helps you manage plateaus while keeping you motivated. In the long run you’ve studied for your new healthy lifestyle and for your new figure. It makes it easier to maintain your weight loss diet when you have done the studying. So don’t skip this step, you’re studying for the most important test of your life… your health.
Many people ask me what to do about extra skin, or loose skin, after weight loss and the answer is always “that’s what exercise is for.” If all you can do is a 20 minute yoga video after the kids go down for their nap, or a walk with the dog after work, find a way to make the most of it. And whenever possible increase the time you exercise, if even by 5 minutes.
It usually takes three to four days for your body to go into ketosis because you have to use up your body's stores of glucose, i.e., sugar first, Keatley says. Any major diet change can give you some, uh, issues, and Keatley says he often sees patients who complain of IBS-like symptoms and feeling wiped out at the beginning of the diet. (The tiredness happens because you have less access to carbs, which give you quick energy, he explains.)
When I go to big meals at family-style restaurants or people’s homes, I keep my appetizer or salad plate for the entrée course. I load up on a lot of food during both courses but using the slightly smaller plate helps. I've also learned to fill my plates with mostly veggies. I will still gladly take a spoonful of mac and cheese, but I'm careful not to take more than that because I know that if it’s on the plate, it will end up in my mouth.